Signals regulating tendon formation during chick embryonic development



Tendons are collagen-rich structures that link muscle to cartilage. By using quail–chick chimeras, it has been shown that tendon and cartilage cells originate from the same mesodermic compartment, which is distinct from that giving rise to muscle cells. Axial tendons originate from the sclerotomal compartment, and limb tendons originate from the lateral plate, whereas axial and limb muscles derive from dermomyotomes. Despite these different embryologic origins, muscle and tendon morphogenesis occurs in close spatial and temporal association. Facilitated by the distinct embryologic origin of myogenic and tendon cells, surgical studies in the avian embryo have highlighted interactions between tendons and muscles, during embryonic development. However, these interactions seem to differ between axial and limb levels. The molecular mechanisms underlying muscle and tendon interactions have been shown recently to involve different members of the fibroblast growth factor family. This review covers the available data on the early steps of tendon formation in the limb and along the primary axis. The relationship with muscle morphogenesis will be highlighted. Developmental Dynamics 229:449–457, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.